Japan is famous for its delicious seafood, and sushi is becoming increasingly commonplace in many countries throughout the world. Want a real treat to go along with your sushi lunch? As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, you can book with us to learn how to make sushi. Now, let’s explore where you can see our sushi chefs buy their fish! Tsukiji Fish Market is Tokyo’s mecca for seafood and sushi lovers, so don’t miss your chance to see this amazing place. Let’s dive into some of the best ways to enjoy visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market!
The Tsukiji Fish Market is one of the oldest markets in Tokyo. Almost every day, wholesalers and fishmongers gather here to sell their wares to professional chefs, restaurant owners, and travelers alike. The Tsukiji Fish Market wasn’t originally designed to be a tourist destination, but thanks to its lively atmosphere, delicious food, and deep cultural significance, it’s become one of the must do things in Tokyo!
…Any day that the market is open! The market is generally closed on Sundays, Wednesdays, and national holidays, but there are some exceptions throughout the year, so be sure to check that the market’s open days align with your schedule! Unfortunately, websites with the most accurate calendars are only available in Japanese, but you can consult us to find the best dates for your trip!
There are three main areas of the market, and each one offers unique activities and attractions. Let’s explore them all!
Visiting the Toyosu Market Tuna Auction
Fins down, the tuna auction is the most famous and attractive activity in the market. Tuna is one of the most popular varieties of sushi in Japan, and chefs from sushi restaurants all over Tokyo come here to scoop up the best catches.
First, the chefs get a chance to examine each of the lots. They use pickaxe-like hooks to pull out a bit of frozen meat and feel its consistency between their fingers. Then, they check the color of the fish with a flashlight.
After everyone has a chance to gauge the quality of the catch and decide on what prices they’re willing to pay, the bidding war begins! The auctioneers ring a bell and capture everyone’s attention by holding a long, rolling note before shouting out prices at lightning speed. One giant tuna can sell for anywhere between US $100 and US $600,000!
At Toyosu Fish Market (down the street from Tsukiji), travelers are allowed to watch the tuna auction—but getting in takes some strategy. The auctions take place from 5:30-6:30 am, and there are two observation decks. Visitors to the upper one don't need reservations but stand behind windows where you might not be able to see or hear very much.
The other deck is on the lower floor, but you'll need to submit an application one month in advance, and an application doesn't guarantee a spot. Or, you can book with us and we’ll work out the logistics to get you to the Toyosu Fish Market early!
Visiting the Outer Market
Tsukiji Fish Market is one of the best places in Tokyo to eat sushi and seafood! If you’re able to get into the tuna auction, you can enjoy a famous Tsukiji Fish Market sushi breakfast in the Outer Market. Or if you decide to go later in the day, check out the lunch specials at the Outer Market’s sushi spots’ lunch specials to satisfy your cravings for nigiri sushi and miso soup!
The Outer Market—Jogai in Japanese—is a maze of snack stalls and street restaurants. Interestingly, some of these establishments opened generations ago and are still run by the same families today!
Eating at Tsukiji Fish Market is quite the culinary experience. Each Tsukiji Fish Market restaurant offers specialties that delight every taste bud. You can search for the best sushi in Tsukiji Fish Market or go for other dishes like ramen, eel skewers, Japanese omelet, fresh sea urchin, giant oysters, matcha ice cream, and more!
If you’re a cooking enthusiast, don’t pass up a Japanese cooking knife, which are said to be coveted by chefs worldwide, or some authentic spices for your collection at home. Whether you shop or eat, make sure to bring plenty of cash—most vendors don’t accept credit cards!
Visiting the Inner Market
The Inner Market—Jonai in Japanese—is a wholesale market for vendors and buyers to conduct business. Here, you can watch chefs and restaurant owners bustle through the narrow streets and dash from stall to stall as they try to beat the competition for the best deal.
Tsukiji's former Inner Market allowed travelers to enter after 11:00 am. However, after Inner Market's move to Toyosu, the new set-up changed quite a bit. While the Tsukiji Inner Market had a rustic charm, the design of it made it difficult for buyers to get around groups of tourists. Now, visitors who enter the Toyosu Inner Market must stay behind glass windows in designated areas.
While Visiting the Tuna Auction
oStay in the designated areas for observers
oNo flash photography
oListen to the guards and carefully follow the rules
oAnyone not in compliance will be booted from the tour immediately
While Visiting the Outer Market
oWear light, comfortable clothes
oWear close-toed shoes
oDon’t carry luggage or large backpacks
oBe respectful and don’t haggle with the vendors
oDon’t touch anything that you haven’t purchased
oDon’t obstruct traffic
oDon’t enter areas for restricted personnel
oDon’t smoke (including electronic cigarettes) in the market outside of designated areas
You may be surprised to learn that Tsukiji Fish Market is over 80 years old! Unfortunately, decades of earthquakes and other natural disasters have caused its buildings to gradually deteriorate, and Tsukiji is now in desperate need of renovations. Also, traveler numbers increase each year, and the old, narrow streets can no longer accommodate the throngs of people who pass through the market each day.
Rather than spending money on an expensive and lengthy remodeling project, Tsukiji moved its tuna auction and Inner Market to Tokyo’s Toyosu area. Even though this move had been postponed multiple times over the years, the new areas opened in Toyosu on October 11th, 2018. The Outer Market is still in the Tsukiji District.
If you’ve already savored delicious morsels of Japanese fish and are craving a new kind of culinary adventure, you’ll want to visit the Tsukiji Fish Market!
But it if you go, remember that Tsukiji is—first and foremost—a place of business, not a tourist attraction. While you enjoy the experience and sample some raw fish, please be careful to follow the market’s rules and etiquette. This will make you and your fellow travelers’ experiences that much better!